TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 26, 2017
 
Blog EGOS & ICONS
SHINE IS OFF BLUE JAYS' SEASON
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Alex Anthopolous spent considerable time and energy last winter putting together a new squad, as talented a mix of veterans and promising players as he could assemble in an effort to compete for the playoffs and, by extension, reenergize a listless fan base.

So far, that plan is working out great. In Buffalo.

Meanwhile, with every passing day, the Toronto Blue Jays look less and less like a team capable of contending in the American League East.

Eager to extricate their Triple-A team from far-flung Las Vegas at the end of 2012, the Blue Jays were willing to please when the nearby Buffalo Bisons offered an ideal local landing spot, but asked for help fielding a winner after years of neglect under their previous two affiliations.

Even as he sent swathes of young prospects packing in his offseason overhaul of the big league team, Anthopoulos and his staff sought out options for the Bisons. But beyond outfielders-of-the-future Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra, it's largely a roster of fringe major leaguers and career minor leaguers who offer little more than marginal insurance for injury woes in the bigs, plus a couple of catchers who've handled R.A. Dickey's dancing knuckleball before.

Yet one month in, while the high-priced talent assembled in Toronto continues to lurch from one loss to the next, the Bisons have jumped out of the gate at a Red Sox-esque 17-7 clip, setting a team record for victories in April. Their final win of the month was the 254th of manager Marty Brown's Buffalo career, and he was carted around the clubhouse in a shopping cart by his celebrating players before being doused in beer.

On the other side of Lake Ontario, John Gibbons isn't having anywhere near as much fun. Ain't irony a bitch?

You can parse the statistics all you want about the way things have started for the Blue Jays, point to the five months that remain as more than enough time to correct what's wrong and wait for supposedly proven talent to return to regular levels of production. But there's one digit in particular that jumps out in alarming fashion after the first four weeks, and it's depressingly low. The number is one, and it's the amount of times the 2013 Blue Jays have won back-to-back games.

Save for that oh-so-brief consecutive day stretch of victories over Kansas City on April 12 and 13, the Jays have wilted under the burden of expectation on a disturbingly regular basis so far, conspiring to lose games with a combination of calamitous defensive errors, sub-par starting pitching and a shocking inability to hit in key situations.

All in all, it's been a bit of a downer, a misery compounded by the fact that it's Boston of all teams, led by that traitorous scoundrel John Farrell, who've run out to a red hot start and boasts the best record in baseball. Add in injuries to Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson, and it all feels depressingly familiar.

There's no doubting the wisdom of taking the long view here, holding firm in expectation of improvement through regression to the mean. But there's also no doubt the shine has come off this season in a serious way. For Blue Jays fans, this was supposed to be the year hope for the future was replaced by a brighter, better present. That hasn't happened yet. At least, if you actually want to watch a winning baseball team for once, Buffalo is only a short drive away.

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